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8 Characteristics of a Servant Leader

November 13, 2018

Editor’s Note: This is part two of our series focusing on the Servant Leader. In part one, we defined servant leadership and took a look at the example set by former NFL player and Army Ranger, Pat Tillman. Now in part 2, we look at the eight characteristics that make up a servant leader.

Who are These Servant Leaders?

Servant leaders are all around us.  They are just hard to spot because they are so focused on their mission – selflessly serving others.  It is the teacher who is always accessible after class.  The nurse who goes beyond the call of duty to care for her patients.  The gifted actor who accepts a supporting role in the play.  The volunteer whose passion is serving the community.  The star athlete who cares less about his or her statistics as compared to the team’s success.  And, Pat Tillman – the gifted athlete and scholar whose priority was serving his country.  When asked why he decided to put his professional football career on hold and join the U.S. Military, Tillman stated “Sports embodied many of the qualities I deem meaningful, however, these last few years, and especially after the September 11th attack, I have come to appreciate just how shallow and insignificant my role is…It is no longer important.”

Great teams, organizations and communities have servant leaders who make their own unique contributions.  A servant leader is willing to risk his or her fate in order to do what is right.  It is the politician who champions an unpopular policy because he or she feels it is in the best interest of the country.  It is the coach who benches the star player because the team chemistry is at risk.  It is the co-worker who accepts full responsibility for a failed project even though many team members were involved.

What are the Characteristics of the Servant Leader? 

Larry Spears, President and CEO of the Robert K. Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership extracted the following characteristics of servant leaders after years of studying Greenleaf’s original writings:

Listening – Servant leaders possess a trait of listening intently to others.  Listening, coupled with regular periods of reflection, is essential to the growth of the servant leader.

Empathy – The servant leader strives to understand and empathize with those whom they serve.  They accept and recognize one’s talents and unique abilities.

Healing – Many people have broken spirits and suffer from a variety of emotional hurts.  Servant leaders recognize that they have an opportunity to “help make people whole”.

Persuasion – Servant leaders use persuasion rather than positional authority in making decisions within an organization.  They seek to convince others rather than coerce compliance.

Conceptualization – A servant leader has the ability to help others “dream great dreams”.  They have the ability to look at a problem from a conceptualizing perspective allowing them to think beyond day-to-day realities.

Stewardship – Stewardship is best defined as “managing for others, one who directs affairs.  Guardian.  Manager.”  Servant leadership, like stewardship, assumes first and foremost a commitment to serving the needs of others.

Commitment to the Growth of People – Servant leaders believe that people have intrinsic value beyond their tangible contributions as workers.  As a result, the servant leader is deeply committed to the growth of each and every individual whom they serve.

Building Community – A servant leader is ever mindful of the importance of building community amongst those they serve.  Servant leadership suggests that true community can be created when people are respected and valued.

Pat Tillman exemplified these qualities in the way he lived his life. Sadly, Pat Tillman was killed by friendly fire on April 22, 2004.  The Army initially claimed that Tillman and his unit were attacked in an apparent ambush on a road outside the village of Sperah, about 25 miles southwest of Khost, near the Pakistan border.  An investigation by the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command concluded that Tillman and the Afghan militia soldier were killed by friendly fire when one ally group fired upon another in confusion after nearby gunfire was mistakenly believed to be from enemy combats.

On Sunday, September 19, 2004, all teams of the NFL wore a memorial decal on their helmets in honor of Pat Tillman.  The Arizona Cardinals continued to wear this decal throughout the 2004 season.  Pat Tillman…athlete, professional football player, son, husband, brother, soldier.  A servant leader…selfless, empathetic and aware!

About the Author

Scott Addis, CPCU, CRA, CBWA is the CEO of Beyond Insurance and is recognized as an industry leader having been named a Philadelphia finalist for Inc. Magazine’s “Entrepreneur of the Year” award as well as one of the “25 Most Innovative Agents in America.” Beyond Insurance is a consulting firm that offers leadership training, cultural transformation, and talent and tactical development for enlightened professionals who are looking to take their practice to the next level.  Since 2007, the proven and repeatable processes of Beyond Insurance have transformed individuals and organizations as measured by enhanced organic growth, productivity, profitability, and value in the marketplace.

Pat Tillman … the Servant Leader

November 13, 2018

Editor’s Note: This is part one of our series focusing on the Servant Leader. Today, we define what servant leadership is and look closely at Pat Tillman, a notable example. In part 2, we look at eight characteristics of a servant leader.

Are you a Servant Leader?  Is your top priority to look after the needs of your followers to ensure that they reach their full potential, hence perform at their best?

The term servant leadership was first coined by Robert K. Greenleaf (1904-1990) in a 1970 essay entitled The Servant as Leader.   Since that time, more than half a million copies of his books and essays have been sold worldwide.  Greenleaf’s servant-leadership writings have made a deep, long lasting impression on many individuals and corporations who share a concern for the issues of leadership, management, service and personal growth.  His influence is also evidenced through the work of numerous award winning authors including, but not limited to, Stephen Covey, Ken Blanchard and John Maxwell to name a few.

While there are many servant leaders who come to mind, I suggest that Pat Tillman belongs at the top of the list.  In May, 2002, eight months after the September 11th attacks and after completing the 15 remaining games of the 2001 NFL season, Tillman turned down a contract offer of $3.6 million over three years from the Arizona Cardinals to enlist in the U.S. Army.  He was killed in Afghanistan in 2004.  The official story is that he was shot by enemy forces during an ambush, but it was later revealed that he may have been killed by friendly fire.

What is Servant Leadership?

Servant leaders serve the people they lead.  Their style represents a selfless approach to leadership, one that places serving others – including employees, customers, community and country – as priority number one.  Servant leadership emphasizes increased service to others, promoting a sense of community and sharing of power and decision making.  Servant leaders understand that personal recognition is not the path toward team success.  Their ego and individual goals do not get in the way of the larger picture of team goals.

The words servant and leader are usually thought of as opposites.  However, when these two opposites are brought together, the selfless leader emerges.  At its core, servant-leadership represents a transformational approach to life and work – a way of being that creates positive change in life, business and society.

Born on November 6, 1976 in San Jose, California, Pat Tillman was the oldest of three sons.  He excelled at football in high school and helped lead Leland High School to the Central Coast Division I football championship.  Tillman’s considerable talent landed him a scholarship to Arizona State University (ASU) which he attended after graduating from high school.  At ASU, Tillman thrived on the field and in the classroom.  As a linebacker he helped his team achieve an undefeated season and make it to the 1997 Rose Bowl game.  He won Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year and was selected as the ASU Most Valuable Player.  Tillman also earned awards for his performance as a student, winning the Clyde B. Smith Academic Award in 1996 and 1997; the Sporting News Honda Scholar-Athlete of the Year in 1997; and the 1998 Sun Angel Student Athlete of the Year.

Pat Tillman was selected by the Arizona Cardinals as the 226th pick in the 1998 National Football League Draft.  Tillman moved over to play the safety position in the NFL and started 10 of 16 games in his rookie season.  Of interest, he turned down a 5-year, $9 million contract offer from the St. Louis Rams out of loyalty to the Cardinals.  Sports Illustrated football writer Paul Zimmerman named Tillman to his 2000 NFL All Pro Team after Tillman finished with 155 tackles (120 solo), 1.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries, 9 pass deflections and 1 interception for 30 yards.  He excelled in the NFL despite being relatively small for his position at 5’ 11” tall.

What do Servant Leaders do Differently?

A servant leader serves first.  He or she is the one who is the first to volunteer to help.  Never to proud to do the work, even the difficult or unpopular jobs in order for the team to succeed.  Often, the jobs are done without anyone knowing because there is no complaining or comparing.

Robert Greenleaf wrote that “servant leadership begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve.  Then conscience choice brings one to aspire to lead.  The best test is to ask oneself two questions:  (1) Do those served grow as persons?  (2) Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, autonomous, more likely themselves to be servants?”  The following represents a sampling of what the servant leader does:

  • Devotes himself or herself to serving the needs of the team.
  • Focuses on fulfilling the needs of those whom they lead
  • Develops and nurtures team members to bring out the best in them
  • Coaches others and encourages their self expression
  • Facilitates personal growth in all whom they serve
  • Listens with the goal of building a sense of community

Pat Tillman and his brother Kevin enlisted on May 31, 2002.  Kevin gave up a career in professional baseball as he already had signed to play for the Cleveland Indians.  In September, 2002, one year after the World Trade Center attacks, they completed their basic training together.  The two brothers completed the Ranger Indoctrination Program in late 2002 and were assigned to the 2nd Ranger Battalion in Fort Lewis, Washington.  After participating in the initial invasion of Operation Iraqi Freedom in September 2003, Pat Tillman entered Ranger School in Fort Benning, Georgia and graduated on November 28, 2003.  Tillman was subsequently redeployed to Afghanistan.

Pat Tillman was very close to his family and high school friends.  He repeatedly mentioned in his journals during wartime service that he drew strength from, and deeply valued, his closest friendships, parents, wife and family.  He was very committed to his high school sweetheart whom he married just prior to enlistment in the Army Rangers, Marie Ugenti Tillman.

Pat Tillman was killed by friendly fire on April 22, 2004.  The Army initially claimed that Tillman and his unit were attacked in an apparent ambush on a road outside the village of Sperah, about 25 miles southwest of Khost, near the Pakistan border.  An investigation by the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command concluded that Tillman and the Afghan militia soldier were killed by friendly fire when one ally group fired upon another in confusion after nearby gunfire was mistakenly believed to be from enemy combats.

On Sunday, September 19, 2004, all teams of the NFL wore a memorial decal on their helmets in honor of Pat Tillman.  The Arizona Cardinals continued to wear this decal throughout the 2004 season.  Pat Tillman…athlete, professional football player, son, husband, brother, soldier.  A servant leader…selfless, empathetic and aware!

About the Author

Scott Addis, CPCU, CRA, CBWA is the CEO of Beyond Insurance and is recognized as an industry leader having been named a Philadelphia finalist for Inc. Magazine’s “Entrepreneur of the Year” award as well as one of the “25 Most Innovative Agents in America.” Beyond Insurance is a consulting firm that offers leadership training, cultural transformation, and talent and tactical development for enlightened professionals who are looking to take their practice to the next level.  Since 2007, the proven and repeatable processes of Beyond Insurance have transformed individuals and organizations as measured by enhanced organic growth, productivity, profitability, and value in the marketplace.

 

5 Abilities Common to Leaders

November 5, 2018

Editor’s Note: Earlier, we looked at the difference between leaders and managers, noting the need for both types of individuals within an organization. The ability to manage the affairs of an organization is paramount.  However, it is becoming increasingly rare to find an inspiring and gifted leader who is capable of delivering the Leadership Message and possesses the following five abilities:

  1. Ability to create a shared vision for the organization. The “vision” must be clear, compelling and properly articulated.  The staff must buy into the leader’s vision and have passion for it.
  2. Ability to build the right team. Because leaders do not have the time and ability to execute the vision, it is essential that the right team is in place.  They must also be armed with tools to implement the vision.
  3. Ability for the leader to get out of the way. The leader’s vision creates energy, enthusiasm and passion.  On occasion, however, the vision gets diluted because the leader gets in the way of those who execute.  A gifted leader knows when to get out of the way to let his or her team design, build and execute.
  4. Ability to value people. Great leaders understand their gifts and recognize their limitations.  They understand the importance of recognizing the accomplishments and talents of those who support their visions.  The ability to value others is an essential ingredient of the successful leader.
  5. Ability to ride the wave of chaos. People don’t like change.  They feel comfortable with the status quo.  The leader’s challenge is to establish a culture which embraces innovation — where the staff’s energy and excitement about the future vision overshadow nervousness and anxiety.

Are you a Manager or a Leader?  Your ability to understand the difference will have a profound impact upon your career and those who support you.

About the Author

Scott Addis, CPCU, CRA, CBWA is the CEO of Beyond Insurance and is recognized as an industry leader having been named a Philadelphia finalist for Inc. Magazine’s “Entrepreneur of the Year” award as well as one of the “25 Most Innovative Agents in America.” Beyond Insurance is a consulting firm that offers leadership training, cultural transformation, and talent and tactical development for enlightened professionals who are looking to take their practice to the next level.  Since 2007, the proven and repeatable processes of Beyond Insurance have transformed individuals and organizations as measured by enhanced organic growth, productivity, profitability, and value in the marketplace.

Leading vs. Managing: Understanding the Difference Is Key to Your Success

November 5, 2018

Are you a Manager or a Leader?  Although these terms are used interchangeably, they represent very different people with diverse personalities and world views.  By learning whether you have the characteristics of a Manager or a Leader, you will gain the insight and self-confidence that come from knowing more about yourself.  This knowledge will have a profound impact on your personal growth and the success of your organization.

Managing is about stewardship, control, planning, organizing, resource allocation and problem solving.  It is the act of coordinating people and resources to efficiently produce goods, strategies or services.  Leading is the process of influencing others to achieve mutually agreed upon goals for the good of the organization.  It is about vision, people alignment, culture and communication supported by the firm’s mission and guiding principles.
Manage Lead Diagram

Let’s take a look at the two senior partners of Discovery Point Insurance & Risk Management Services – a progressive and extremely successful insurance agency.  Oscar serves as the Chief Executive Officer and Felix is the President and Chief Operating Officer.  Oscar is a Leader.  Felix is a Manager.  Their diverse skill sets offer a perfect complement for Discovery Point.  The organization continues to have unparalleled organic growth and profitability, in large part due to the teamwork of Oscar and Felix.

The Manager (Felix)

Felix is an outstanding Manager.  He came to Discovery Point approximately 15 years ago to oversee the firm’s P/L, operations, budgeting, reporting, human resources, stewardship and quality assurance practices.  Felix works closely with his staff in setting performance standards, meeting deadlines and benchmarking operational efficiency and profitability.  His gift is one of organizational metrics – a necessary and critical function for his insurance agency.  Felix often asks the question “What operational issues need attention and what are the best means to achieve results so that my staff can best meet our client demands.”  Felix is a problem solver.  He is focused on goals, resources and organizational structure.  He is persistent, tough minded, hardworking, intelligent, analytical, tolerant and demonstrates good will toward others.

The Leader (Oscar)

Oscar started at Discovery Point as a producer 20 years ago.  He transitioned into the CEO position approximately 4 years ago.  Oscar thinks and acts quite differently than Felix.  He is not focused on the bottom line.  Rather, Oscar is keenly aware of the impact of his people on the bottom line.  He understands that behaviors create success.  Oscar has a gift of empowering people to take ownership for their roles, responsibilities and actions.  Oscar knows how to get his staff to respond.  He is an amazing motivator and developer of talent.

While Oscar is externally focused, Felix is internally focused.  Oscar does not get bogged down in the details of internal process, rather sees his role as creating value through design and development of innovative systems, technologies and strategies.  It is Oscar’s creativity and vision that excites the staff.

The Importance of Balance

Great organizations have a wonderful balance between Leaders and Managers.  Leaders are the visionaries who look ahead and plan what is to come.  Managers look to the present and make sure that things get done properly.  To build and grow an organization, you need Leaders.  And to manage one, you need Managers.  It is interesting to note that most Leaders are not good Managers.  It serves leaders’ well to be aware of their limitations and not over stretch themselves in that role.  It is easier to turn a great Manager into a Leader than the other way around.

The success of Discovery Point gives evidence to the importance of balance.  Both Oscar and Felix understand each other’s unique abilities and play off of one another.

The Alignment of Leaders & Managers

The relationship between leaders and managers is essential.  The energy created by proper alignment has tremendous positive impact on personal growth and organizational achievement.

Oscar and Felix are proud to be partners and embrace each other’s skills.  Oscar appreciates Felix’s management capabilities.  Felix applauds Oscar’s visionary talents.  Behind the desks of Oscar and Felix, there is a document entitled Discovery Point “Balanced Score Card.”  Oscar and Felix developed this tool after reading On Becoming a Leader by Warren Bennis.  The “scorecard” states:

…the Manager administers; the Leader innovates

…the Manager maintains; the Leader develops

…the Manager focuses on systems and structures; the Leader focuses on people

…the Manager has a short range view; the Leader has a long range perspective

…the Manager asks how and when; the Leader asks what and why

…the Manager has his/her eye on the bottom line; the Leader has his/her eye on the horizon

Felix has a thoughtful, consistent way of making sure that each person is accountable.  Oscar is the value creator – always looking to tweak the vision of the organization.  Put simply, Felix is “running a tight ship,” while Oscar “inspires the crew.”

On those rare occasions when Oscar and Felix get on each other’s turf, the firm is paralyzed.  However, the paralysis is short lived because the staff of Discovery Point helps Oscar and Felix focus on their unique skill sets.  The staff understands and appreciates both individual’s strengths and weaknesses.  They value the ability of Felix to put order and stability into the corporate culture yet understands that he is not gifted at instigating change and vision for the future.  On the other hand, the staff embraces Oscar’s unique ability to stir emotions, raise expectations, explore the unknown and take the firm into unchartered waters.

True managers work like a set of gears to keep an organization running; true leaders deliver a clear vision and inspire others. We call this the Leadership Message.

About the Author

Scott Addis, CPCU, CRA, CBWA is the CEO of Beyond Insurance and is recognized as an industry leader having been named a Philadelphia finalist for Inc. Magazine’s “Entrepreneur of the Year” award as well as one of the “25 Most Innovative Agents in America.” Beyond Insurance is a consulting firm that offers leadership training, cultural transformation, and talent and tactical development for enlightened professionals who are looking to take their practice to the next level.  Since 2007, the proven and repeatable processes of Beyond Insurance have transformed individuals and organizations as measured by enhanced organic growth, productivity, profitability, and value in the marketplace.

Persuasive Skills and How They Can be Strengthened

October 31, 2018

Persuasive skills are the skills that enable you to present your case or ideas to others in a way that convinces them that your ideas have merit.  Being persuasive consists of the following characteristics:

  • You are able to analyze your audience and present your case in such a way that shows how your position is the right one.
  • You are able and willing to listen to your audience and respond appropriately with responses regarding how your ideas help satisfy their needs or concerns.
  • You can make a logical, well-researched argument that uses facts and data to back up your ideas or position.
  • You can keep your cool and enter into an exchange of ideas without feeling compelled to argue in a negative manner or resort to personal attacks.
  • You are able to articulate your case or idea clearly in speech and/or writing.

Persuasion skills are on display during events like presidential debates and campaign speeches.  However, good persuasive skills are an essential part of everyday life as people in leadership positions, sales & marketing and client service rely upon them.  Let’s take a look.

Leadership:  Persuasion is an essential leadership trait as leaders are required to influence others to achieve a mutually agreed goal for the good of the Team.  It is about vision, people alignment, culture and communication.

Sales & Marketing:  As you have experienced firsthand, the most successful salespersons and marketing representatives are those who persuade you to buy their product or service.

Client Service: If you are in a position that involves customer service, you know that your success depends upon the trust and confidence placed on your wisdom, guidance and direction.  Your persuasive skills allow you to communicate how your products and services serve the client’s best interests.

The power of persuasion opens doors for you and makes your path to success much smoother.  While there is no doubt that persuasion is important in the business setting, it is also important in personal relationships with your spouse, children, parents and other loved ones.  Think how often those who depend upon you are asked to take a leap of faith based upon your sound judgment.  Possibly, it was your decision to place an aging parent into a long-term care facility, your stance on alcohol and drugs with your teenager, or how you persuaded your son or daughter to try out for the lead in the school play.

8 Tips to Enhance Your Persuading Skills

Persuasion techniques have their roots in neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) or empathy.  To persuade, you must understand the person you are trying to influence.  Females usually respond best to feelings.  Men often respond best to visuals.  And, some people are best affected by audio.  To learn which is the best stimulus to focus your persuasion, study the other person’s speech patterns.  Do they say, “I see,” “I hear what you are saying” or “I feel that…?”  The more you become aware of the person you are dealing with, the more powerful your persuasion skills.

Matching body language is also a subtle yet effective persuasive techniques.  An analysis of thousands of recorded sales interviews and negotiations in business encounters support the findings of Albert Mehrabian and Ray Birdwhistell through which they determined that body language accounts for 60% to 80% of business negotiation.  Eye contact, gestures, posture, smile and touch lead the list.

While there are numerous additional activities that will enhance your ability to persuade, I would like to suggest the following eight tips:

  1. If you want to be heard, listen.  Giving the other person the chance to speak not only gives you vital clues to their wants, needs and mood, it also shows that you are there to look after their interests.  Listening also makes it easier for you to outline the benefits of your offering in terms they can understand.
  2. Argue your case with logic.  Do careful research on your ideas and those of your competitors and make sure that any claims you make can be supported by your process.
  3. The more hesitant language you use such as “isn’t it,” “you know,” “um mm” and “I mean” the less people are likely to believe your argument.
  4. Use positive rather than negative language:  instead of saying “You’re wrong about this,” say “That’s true, however…” or “I agree with what you say but have you considered….”
  5. Subtly compliment the other party.  For example:  “I see that you’ve done some excellent research into this.”  Even though they may realize that you are stroking them, evidence shows that they will still warm to you and be more open to you.
  6. Mirroring the other person’s mannerisms.  Research substantiates that 67% of people who use mirroring achieved a sale compared to 12% who did not.  People you mirror subconsciously feel more empathy with you.
  7. Remember the names of everyone you meet.  It shows that you are treating them as an individual.
  8. Show gratitude. Gratitude is an internally generated capability [internal link to gratitude post] that allows you to strengthen relationships and increase productivity.

The Power of Persuasion…a skill set that will take you to new levels of success!

About the Author

Scott Addis, CPCU, CRA, CBWA is the CEO of Beyond Insurance and is recognized as an industry leader having been named a Philadelphia finalist for Inc. Magazine’s “Entrepreneur of the Year” award as well as one of the “25 Most Innovative Agents in America.” Beyond Insurance is a consulting firm that offers leadership training, cultural transformation, and talent and tactical development for enlightened professionals who are looking to take their practice to the next level.  Since 2007, the proven and repeatable processes of Beyond Insurance have transformed individuals and organizations as measured by enhanced organic growth, productivity, profitability, and value in the marketplace.

 

 

The 6 Weapons of Persuasion

October 28, 2018

A few weeks ago, I was at a sporting event when I overheard a tenacious seven-year old boy say, “Daddy, I want that sports jersey.”  When the father politely suggested that the hefty price did not warrant the purchase, the boy defiantly screamed “I want it.  I need it.”  The father, embarrassed by his son’s tantrum and not wanting to cause a scene, reluctantly pulled out his credit card and purchased the jersey for his son.

Whether you want to admit it or not, people persuade you and you persuade others on a daily basis.  Although you do not use the tactics of the defiant boy, you are required to make your voice and the voice of others heard.  In the workplace, for example, the power of persuasion enables you to argue for or against ideas, decisions and actions that have a material impact on you and your customers.  Persuasion is best defined as the process by which a person’s attitudes or behavior is influenced by communications from other people.  It is an umbrella term for influence.

History and Methods of Persuasion

Persuasion began with the Greeks, who emphasized rhetoric and elocution at the highest standard for a successful politician.  All trials were held in front of the Assembly, and both the prosecution and the defense rested, as they often do today, on the persuasiveness of the speaker.  Aristotle identified three basic elements to every persuasive argument:

  1. Ethos: The credibility, knowledge, expertise, stature and authority of the person who is persuading.
  2. Logo: The appeal of logic, reason, cognitive thinking, data and facts.
  3. Pathos: The appeal to emotions; the non-cognitive, non-thinking motivations that affect decisions and customs.

In the best-selling book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Robert B. Cialdini, Ph.D. defined the following six “influence cues or weapons of influence:”

  1. Reciprocation

The principle of reciprocity states that when a person provides you with something, you attempt to repay him or her in kind.  Reciprocation produces a sense of obligation…a powerful tool in persuasion.

  1. Commitment and Consistency

Commitment is an effective persuasive technique because once you get someone to make a commitment, they are more likely to engage in self-persuasion, providing themselves with reasons to justify support of his or her commitment.

Consistency allows one to more efficiently make decisions and process information.  The concept of consistency states that if a person commits, either orally or in writing, he or she is more likely to honor that particular commitment.  This is especially true for written commitments.

  1. Social Proof

People often base their actions and beliefs on what others are doing, how others act and what others believe.  Simply put, most people are influenced by others around them.  And they want to be doing what everyone else does.

  1. Likability

This weapon is simple and concise.  People say “yes” to people they like.  The two major factors that contribute to likability are physical attractiveness and similarity.  Research documents that people who are physically attractive seem to be more persuasive.  Similarity surrounds the fact that we are attracted to people where there is similarity in opinions, interests, hobbies, personality traits, background or lifestyle.

  1. Authority

People are attracted to others who are knowledgeable and trustworthy.  So, if your character traits demonstrate those two things, you will command authority.  It is interesting to note that we tend to listen to people who are granted the authority to give orders, make decisions and enforce obedience.

  1. Scarcity

According to Cialdini, “people want more of what they cannot have.”  When something has limited availability, people assign more value to it.  We all want things that are out of our reach.  And, if we see something easily available, we do not want it as much as something that is very rare.  To get people to believe in the scarcity principle, you must educate them on the benefits of the scarce product or offering.

I have been fortunate to have received significant recognition for the creation of the Beyond Insurance Process – a four step assessment approach aimed at risk profile improvement.  As I read the book Influence…The Psychology of Persuasion, I could not help but notice that the impact of the Beyond Insurance Process and success of the Beyond Insurance Global Network (www.beyondinsurance.com) is a result of the utilization of all six weapons of influence as listed above.

About the Author

Scott Addis, CPCU, CRA, CBWA is the CEO of Beyond Insurance and is recognized as an industry leader having been named a Philadelphia finalist for Inc. Magazine’s “Entrepreneur of the Year” award as well as one of the “25 Most Innovative Agents in America.” Beyond Insurance is a consulting firm that offers leadership training, cultural transformation, and talent and tactical development for enlightened professionals who are looking to take their practice to the next level.  Since 2007, the proven and repeatable processes of Beyond Insurance have transformed individuals and organizations as measured by enhanced organic growth, productivity, profitability, and value in the marketplace.

 

 

Drive …Your Most Important Trait for Sales Success

October 25, 2018

My senior thesis in college was titled “An Analysis of Athletes in Pressure Situations.” As a psychology major and student athlete at Princeton University, I was curious to understand the mental aspects that create success or failure in sports and in life.

My research uncovered that a common denominator found in nearly all high-performing athletes was drive. Drive to succeed. Drive to accomplish a goal. Drive to make a difference. Drive to win. Drive is so important and powerful that it often pushes less talented individuals beyond those who have been born with higher skill sets but lack a burning desire to succeed.

So, why is drive so important? Because it requires you to have intense self-motivation in the face of rejection and because your business exerts constant pressure on self-esteem. People who possess high levels of drive are willing to smile in the face of rejection and have the constitution to thrive in today’s competitive business environment. While your relationship skills, perseverance, value proposition, persuasiveness, emotional intelligence, referral network, and passion are important, these traits are not sufficient without drive.

In their groundbreaking book, Never Hire a Bad Salesperson Again, Richard Abraham, speaker, writer and consultant to many Fortune 500 companies, and Christopher Croner, Ph.D., a principal with SalesDrive, studied more than 80 years of research in the sales sector and uncovered the following three elements that make up drive:   (1) need for achievement, (2) competitiveness, and (3) optimism.

Need for Achievement

People who exhibit high-drive tendencies are motivated by the need to achieve outstanding results and are willing to do virtually anything it takes to get there. They are ambitious, disciplined, and always focused on advancement. They are never satisfied. These people have an insatiable appetite for success, setting the bar higher and higher. Their need for achievement is the inner motivation that causes them to relentlessly pursue excellence.

Where does this need for achievement come from? “Like most personality traits, it is heavily influenced by a person’s childhood experiences” states Abraham and Croner. Research substantiates that the “parents or guardians of high achievers are praising, supportive, optimistic, hardworking and success oriented.” It is interesting to note that high achievers are not always star students. “They excel at whatever is important to them in accomplishing their goals.”

Competitiveness

Driven people are born to compete and win. They relish the thrill of the race and the rush of winning. And they hate to lose.  “In fact their loathing for losing is often as strong as their passion for winning.  Like a thoroughbred race horse, they are always eyeing their peers…always comparing their performance to others.” Simply put, they are hard-wired to be number one.

As you may have experienced firsthand, competitive people with high drive are sometimes difficult to manage. In these cases, they even compete with those of authority. But it is the tradeoff that must be reconciled as competitiveness is an essential element of drive.

Optimism

Optimism is the ultimate element of drive as it provides the armor to withstand inevitable rejections and hardships. To the high driver, rejection is just part of the game. “Optimistic people credit themselves for success but do not take defeat personally.” People who possess high levels of optimism have advantages over their pessimistic peers in three ways:

  • They expect to win. They go through life with a self-fulfilling prophecy of success.
  • They believe that their problems can be solved. They persist until a solution is developed.
  • They are thick skinned. They interpret failure as something temporary, unusual and outside of their control. And, they have the unique ability to put rejection into proper perspective.

You can now appreciate the three elements to drive — need to achieve, competitiveness and optimism. If you have one or two of the three elements, can you achieve drive? No, all three must be present. Abraham and Croner summed it up best by saying “If  need for achievement is the engine, and competitiveness is the steering wheel, optimism is the key to the engine. Without all three you are never going to get out of the garage.”

Recognizing Drive

According to Abraham and Croner, it has been estimated that up to 50 percent of people who are currently making their living through sales are in the wrong line of work. They may be excellent communicators, likable and gregarious, yet they do not possess drive – the most important characteristic of people who sell for a living. Through proper testing and interview techniques, drive can be identified, measured and monitored.  To thrive in a competitive business environment, you must recognize the importance of the three elements of drive and have a process to confirm that you and those individuals responsible for business development possess the critical trait.

Can you easily recognize a person with high drive characteristics? No. Drive can easily be misinterpreted and faked. It is difficult to discern a person’s need for achievement (represented by industriousness) and optimism (represented by persistence in the face of failure). “It is often the server or dishwasher at the local restaurant who is working to pay for college, not the campus club president who has the drive to succeed.”

Indicators of Drive:

You may have a special interest in “indicators” that correlate to the need for achievement, competitiveness and optimism.

Need for Achievement

  1. Substantial past sacrifices for success at work (time, other pursuits, etc.)
  2. Has regularly exceeded expectations for projects, making sales numbers, customer service
  3. Has been a sharp critic of own efforts; is tough on self in judging accomplishments
  4. Has regularly shown effort beyond the typical work week
  5. Has accomplished a very challenging work goal; has a specific plan to top that goal
  6. Tells a story about a major accomplishment and hard work to achieve it
  7. Has a story about exerting a tremendous effort leading to a major accomplishment; has done so regularly; feels that such effort is simply par for the course

Competitiveness

  1. Has more than one recent example (work, home, sports)
  2. Consistently ranks at or near the top of the sales team and gives permission to verify
  3. Tells about enjoying the process of winning over a difficult customer
  4. Manager ranks candidate as among most competitive
  5. Tells about a competition with coworkers or with competitors over a customer; describes it as a common occurrence

Optimism

  1. A history of substantial effort to secure a new customer
  2. Quickly puts rejection in perspective and bounces back by working on another sale
  3. Attributes a problem to a temporary, unusual situation out of own control

[Source: Croner & Abraham, 2006]

The superstars of today and tomorrow share the three elements that take them to new heights of sales success—the need for achievement, competitiveness and optimism.  Drive…your most important trait for sales success!

*All quotations sourced from Never Hire a Bad Salesperson Again

About the Author

Scott Addis, CPCU, CRA, CBWA is the CEO of Beyond Insurance and is recognized as an industry leader having been named a Philadelphia finalist for Inc. Magazine’s “Entrepreneur of the Year” award as well as one of the “25 Most Innovative Agents in America.” Beyond Insurance is a consulting firm that offers leadership training, cultural transformation, and talent and tactical development for enlightened professionals who are looking to take their practice to the next level.  Since 2007, the proven and repeatable processes of Beyond Insurance have transformed individuals and organizations as measured by enhanced organic growth, productivity, profitability, and value in the marketplace.